Most of us try to change or improve ourselves. We want to exercise, meet more people, look for another job, but we don’t get around to doing anything different. Why is change so hard? Here’s an answer from one of my Family Counselor columns:
Young circus elephants are chained to a stake in the ground from a young age. Initially they struggle and pull against the chain trying to get free. After a while they give up and stay where they’re chained. When they grow bigger and stronger they have the strength to break free but they don’t even try. They don’t “believe” they can break free.
In many ways we’re conditioned like the elephants. We may have been called “stupid” as a child and “decide” we can’t get good grades, we can’t achieve much. So we don’t try. Or we’re labeled “shy” and think we can’t be outgoing or friendly. So we don’t try. We don’t try to do something new. Like the elephants we’re chained in one place.
Change is scary. It's easier to stay where we are. It’s easier to drift through life than it is to take "risks" and do something new or different. Instead of striving to be our best, we're content to get by. Most of us have a "comfort zone," a range of customary behavior. When we do something outside our comfort zone we feel anxious even when it’s something we really want to do.
To change, begin visualizing yourself succeeding. Like the young elephants, you’re now stronger and more mature than when your beliefs were formed. Don’t focus on pathology ("What's wrong with me?"), focus on growth ("How can I become a better person?"). There’s no substitute for action. Don't let butterflies in the stomach stop you. Think of anxiety as another name for excitement or challenge. Plan what you will do and do it.
There is only one way elephants chained all their life learn to break free. When they see the flames of a fire, they break loose. The same is true for us. When a crisis comes in life, we’re forced to move out of our comfort zones; we must take risks. Don't wait for a crisis. Take action now.
A risk involves faith. Pray and seek God’s will. Take action as he guides you. With his power in us we can leave our comfort zones. We can break free from our chains.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV